Who’s who, and what’s what
Why would anyone ever stay in Castle Rock?
That’s the question that drove Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason to create Hulu’s Castle Rock, an anthology series set in Stephen King’s fictional Maine town. The ZIP code has suffered horrors before — think a rabid dog, or a shopkeeping demon — and yet, some people never leave. “The germ of the idea was to think about the kinds of people who have the grit and fortitude to stick it out in a place that’s been terrorized over and over again,” Thomason says. “Who stays in a place like that?”
Ahead, EW has an exclusive gallery of the key characters living in the unluckiest place in America.
Henry Deaver (André Holland)
Henry’s not exactly a local. Castle Rock is his hometown, but after being involved in a mysterious accident that left his father, the local pastor, dead, a young Henry quickly learned to stop feeling at home there. Now a death-row attorney, Henry is trying to protect those with little hope left — even if he’s rarely successful. “He recognizes that the people he represents are a lot like him,” Holland tells EW. “They’re the people who have been forgotten or given up on.… He feels like a bit of a crusader. He wants to make things better for people and somehow, in doing so, subconsciously repair the damage that he feels himself.”
Which brings us to his latest client…
The Kid (Bill Skarsgård)
Obviously, “the Kid” is not his name — but then again, he doesn’t know his name. An emaciated prisoner found in a cage deep underneath Shawshank, the Kid asks for Henry, and though he speaks little, he appears to know much more. According to Skarsgård, his identity will be at the heart of the mystery around Castle Rock: “Now that he’s out, what’s his agenda? That’s something the audience will have to answer for themselves, to figure it out.”
Ruth Deaver (Sissy Spacek)
Ruth, Henry’s adoptive mother and a lifelong resident of Castle Rock, struggles with dementia and keeps mostly to her home, where she now lives with Scott Glenn’s Alan Pangborn (we’ll get to him). Despite her disease, Ruth remains determined to go about her days the way she always has, even if Henry would rather see her leave the town where she lost her husband. “She is exactly where she wants to be,” Spacek says. “She’s a character that’s very rooted in the vein of this place.… Through all of her confusion, we learn a lot about her past and how it impacts the people of this town and her family.”
Molly Strand (Melanie Lynskey)
In this photo, Molly appears to have a customer — a rarity, given how she works as a realtor in a town that no one should want to call home. Then again, Molly, who grew up across the street from Henry and knew him when they were children, has made plenty of strange choices over the years, thanks to an affliction that makes her… sensitive. “She’s somebody who’s really existing in a place of great discomfort in every part of her life, and pretending not to be,” Lynskey says. “The thing I most relate to is how strongly she feel things. Like, sometimes people are almost overwhelming for me.”
Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn)
King fans will recognize the name: Pangborn is the hero of the Castle Rock-set Needful Things, a sheriff who defeats a demon, and he has popped up in other works, most notably The Dark Half.
Here on Castle Rock, he’s no longer the hero he used to be, the one who worked in law enforcement and romanced Polly Chalmers. Glenn’s version of Pangborn spends his time looking after and caring for Ruth Deaver. “He’s been deeply in love with her for 30 years, but when he finally does get together with her, he finds that she’s suffering from dementia,” Glenn explains. “How do you deal with all that? How do you make your peace with that?”
Adds co-creator Thomason: “In the books, Pangborn is in the prime of his career, but what we were really interested in thinking about was what happens to the guy when he not only becomes a lion in winter, but sort of watches this town where so many terrible things have happened. What does that do to a man, and how does that affect the way he looks at the world?”
Dale Lacy (Terry O’Quinn)
As the warden of Shawshank, Lacy plays a big role in the incarceration of the Kid — and perpetuates the idea that Castle Rock owes its longevity to the prison business. “Stories about justice and law and prisons are the closest things to true-life monster stories that we tell ourselves as a culture,” co-creator Shaw says. “How do we assign blame? How do we reckon with the idea of evil and whether we believe in it? What do we do to feel safe at night?”
Jackie Torrance (Jane Levy)
The quippy, sarcastic, and inquisitive Jackie is the self-appointed “historian” of Castle Rock, who also happens to be very into the macabre. (Looks like she’s in the right place.) Oh, and that last name should raise King fans’ eyebrows — but be warned: It wasn’t Shaw and Thomason’s intention to cram Easter eggs into Castle Rock. “Our strategy is not to overwhelm the viewer with [references],” Thomason says. “We didn’t want it to feel like, ‘Oh, there’s Cujo walking down the street by Dolores Claiborne.’ Certainly not in season 1.”
Of course, Jackie isn’t the last resident of note on Castle Rock. The cast also includes Noel Fisher as prison guard Dennis Zalewski; Chosen Jacobs as Henry’s son, Wendell Deaver; Adam Rothenberg as Henry’s father, Matthew; and more. But giving away everything would be no fun. Look at this way: All spoilers and no mystery makes Castle Rock a dull binge.
Castle Rock debuts Wednesday, July 25, on Hulu.